There is a lot more in your Subway chicken sandwich than you think, and a lot of it isn't even chicken.
DNA researchers from Trent University's Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory, partnered with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, found that Subway's chicken is only half meat, reports NPR.
The researchers were investigating exactly how much chicken goes into the sandwiches at Canada's McDonald's, Wendy's, A&W, Tim Horton's and the popular sandwich-chain, Subway, for a "CBC Marketplace" episode that aired on Feb. 24. The study, revealed in the episode, determined that the chicken from the four other chains each consisted of between 80 and 90 percent chicken DNA. Since the meat had been marinated and seasoned, it would be impossible to reach 100 percent, so this is roughly in line with expectations.
The chicken from Subway, believed to be a healthy alternative to fast food, told a completely different story, however. The report found the sandwich chain's oven-roasted chicken to consist of only 53.6 percent chicken DNA, while the chicken strips had even fewer, with only 42.8 percent chicken DNA. Most of the remaining DNA was soy.
Compared to home-cooked, plain chicken, Subway's version had approximately 25 percent less protein, and between seven and 10 times the amount of sodium.
"People think they're doing themselves a favor and making themselves a healthy choice" by eating Subway's chicken, a nutritionist told the CBC, notes NPR. "But from a sodium perspective you might as well eat a big portion of poutine."
Subway Canada said that they are "concerned by the alleged findings" and "cannot confirm" the test results.
"All of our chicken items are made from 100 percent white meat chicken which is marinated, oven roasted and grilled," a Subway spokesperson told the CBC, as noted on the channel's website. "We tested our chicken products recently for nutritional and quality attributes and found it met our food quality standards. We will look into this again with our supplier to ensure that the chicken is meeting the high standard we set for all of our menu items and ingredients."
The chain reiterated to NPR on March 1 that their chicken is "100 percent white meat with seasonings, marinated and delivered … as a finished, cooked product."
"The accusations made by CBC Marketplace about the content of our chicken are absolutely false and misleading," a Subway spokesperson told NPR. "... We have advised them of our strong objections. We do not know how they produced such unreliable and factually incorrect data, but we are insisting on a full retraction."